I’ve always been uncomfortable with pigeonholing, the notion that it’s possible to completely define people by whatever groups they might belong to. It’s the basis of all bigotry and “us vs them” thinking, and those who forcibly include others in their groups are no better than those who exclude others because they belong to certain groups. In other words, I’m just as offended by women who say, “you’re a woman and so you must act in this way and accept this political dogma” as I am by men who say, “you can’t do such-and-such because you’re a woman.” Yeah, I’m a woman. I’m also human, American, Caucasian, middle-aged, brown-haired & brown-eyed, and of fairly average height and weight. My sexuality is responsive to both men and women, and I’m turned on by a lot of things lumped under the category “kink”; I also make a living providing sexual services, and I’m extremely good at what I do. I used to be a librarian, and I’m still a pretty good writer; I like a lot of different ethnic cuisines (especially Mexican, Italian, Indian and Thai) and dislike green, leafy vegetables and undercooked food. I have reasonably broad tastes in music, but there are a number of genres I can’t really appreciate; in fiction (whether written or performed) I tend to prefer fantasy, horror and speculative fiction, and I also prefer shorter stories & shows to longer ones. I enjoy animation and role-playing games (in-person, not computer-based), and I used to be considered a helluva DM.
So as you can see, there are lots of labels which could be applied to me, and lots of groups to which I might be considered to belong. I could be called a human, American, Southerner, New Orleanian, lapsed Catholic, pagan, woman, brunette, whore, courtesan, ex-librarian, writer, speaker, anarchist, radical, queer, kinkster, polyamorist, nerd, witch, bitch, mentor, healer, activist, public intellectual and many other things; some people call me ugly terms like “pervert”, “pimp” or “criminal”, while others prefer flattering ones like “heroine”, “angel” or “goddess”. But the one thing all these descriptors have in common, whether they’re objective or subjective, bland or emotive, insulting or adulatory, accepted by me or not, is that they do not define me. There is not a single one of these terms which tells you all you need to know about me, not even the ones I proudly embrace (such as “whore”). Even if you string them together (I’ve been known to refer to myself on Twitter as a “kinky bisexual whore”, and I’m generally introduced as a “sex worker, writer and activist”) it still doesn’t even come close to telling you what I’m actually like, or serving as more than an extremely general predictor of almost anything about me (other than the specific trait it denotes). The fact that I’m from New Orleans might give you a few clues about me, but it couldn’t predict the kind of movies I like; the introduction I mentioned above lets you know I’m probably very confident, but says nothing about my dietary preferences; and the fact that I’m bisexual tells you absolutely nothing other than that I wouldn’t automatically reject cuddling up with any given person on the basis of their sex.
And yet there are people who absolutely refuse to get this. I’ve run into folks who presume that because I’m a white Southerner I must be racist; others who imagine my dislike of greens carries some deeper meaning than that they shouldn’t offer me spinach at dinner; still others who declare that my love of sci-fi shows & fantasy games allows them to make predictions about my sex life and living arrangements; and many thousands who fantasize that my profession means I must either be a “victim” or an “exploiter”, or even both. Then just the other day in an exchange with Matisse, I wrote that my terms for letting women snuggle up to me are generally less strict than my terms for letting men do so because “I’m bisexual (leaning lesbian at this stage of my life) & most women don’t try to fuck me without paying“; a dude replied to this with “Oh, a lesbian”, as though that entirely summed up my personality and now he understood everything he needed to know about me. Forget the fact that “bisexual leaning lesbian for the time being” isn’t the same as “lesbian”; even if I did identify as a lesbian that still wouldn’t give you more than a small fraction of a description of my sexuality, and it wouldn’t tell you squat about any other aspect of my personality. The fact that I enjoy kissing and petting other women no more defines my “identity” than the fact that I like spicy food or the fact that I prefer fiction of the imaginative variety; it doesn’t even tell you what I don’t like because preferences aren’t necessarily exclusive (I also like kissing men, eating vanilla ice cream and some movies with absolutely no element of the fantastic). It’s simply not possible to understand any human being by knowing one fact about her, no matter what cops, politicians and tribalists may want you to believe; pigeonholes are fine for pigeons, but unsuited for people.